Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kudos to Mompreneurs

I have often compared starting a business with motherhood.  In both instances, you can do all the homework before hand – the classes, the books, talking to others – but nothing really prepares you for the reality.

Truth is when I was pregnant with my first child, I was so focused on getting through childbirth that I didn’t give much thought to life after birth. So having had a busy career, the isolation of being home with a baby had not even crossed my mind.  Likewise when you work from home, you can miss the camaraderie of your peers.

It was that sense of isolation that led me to help start our local family resource centre, and later when I had my consulting practice, launch Company of Women. Bringing women together helps you realize you are not alone and that others feel the same way too – if they are honest and choose to remove the masks of perfection.

And as for the emotional rollercoaster, it is pretty similar too, as you can switch in seconds from excitement and joy to total fear and tears because you believe that you are not up to the job in hand – be it parenting or running a business.

So to throw motherhood and business together and run a business while you are home with your children takes an even greater leap of faith and courage. I am in awe at the organization, energy and determination it must take to juggle both roles – mother and business owner -  successfully.

As I witnessed at the recent blogging session put on by Women in Biz Network, more and more young mothers are doing this. The energy in the room was electric as the women chatted to one another, comparing notes on business and family life.

Take heart, you are the new pioneers, showing that women do have a head for business, and role modeling for your children, especially your daughters, that with determination and persistence, you can carve out a life for yourself and follow your dreams.

I didn’t start my business until I was 50, so I applaud you.  You go girl.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bullying Tactics

I was recently waiting in line at a popular, small restaurant and watching as the women ahead of us, a party of nine, not only insisted loudly that they be able to sit together but that it happen now, or they would leave and find somewhere else to dine. 

Now if I had been the young waitress, I would have been really tempted to say fine, but she was doing her best to fulfill their request, unreasonable as it was, especially given the size of the restaurant and how busy it was.

Impatient with waiting, these boorish women then pounced on an empty table that had just been vacated and started collecting empty chairs from other tables to try and fit the nine of them around it.  It was impossible.  So six of them plonked themselves down, leaving the remaining three to fend for themselves.  (They weren’t even kind to each other, never mind anyone who had the misfortune to serve them.)

We were next and we commiserated with the waitress as we went in, sharing we thought she’d done a great job under the circumstances.  She smiled and non-verbally acknowledged the challenge of the other ladies.

Just to prove that you get further by being pleasant and treating people with respect, as we left, having had a delightful meal, we both smiled as we observed that the six women had still not got their food, while the three “leftovers” were just finishing their meal.

All of which goes to show that while you can bully and persuade someone to your way of thinking, it doesn’t always pay off in the end.

I suspect that the six women – I won’t call them ladies – were not happy campers and would probably be threatening never to come back.  This would actually be good news all round – for the staff who had to cater to their demands and for the other guests who had to witness such bad behaviour.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lessons from our athletes

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica celebrates winning the gold in the
Women's 100m Final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
August 4, 2012 in London, England. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images Europe)
Like many of us, I’ve been watching the Olympics and learning many key business lessons from the athletes’ determination and winning attitudes.

Take the way that Jamaica consistently produces some of the fastest runners in the world.
In a recent documentary on this phenomena, it was interesting to learn how Jamaica focuses intently on grooming young people to become athletes, and not just any old athletes,  but successful ones.  They actively encourage children to run and to run fast. Little wonder they have such amazing athletes and they are hungry to win.

Makes you wonder what would happen if we took that same laser sharp focus to grow our businesses?   If we focused all our energy in making it happen, maybe success would be just around the corner. But sometimes that means taking a risk, getting out of our comfort zone.

Continuing the sports analogy, it’s like any exercise you do for the first time, you use a new muscle so it hurts at first but as it stretches and expands you soon find yourself able to do more.  Maybe we need to flex our risk muscles.

One of my friends recently put herself out there.  She decided to do her first triathalon -   which involved swimming, running and cycling. Being weaker at cycling, she focused most of her training on that, as she’d been an accomplished swimmer growing up and felt confident in her abilities there. 

The results?  She came in 10th overall.  When she checked her individual results she was surprised to learn that she did her best in the cycling where she’d focused her energies, and not so well in the swimming, which she’d assumed she’d be strong and that it was a done deal.

All of which goes to show, that when we focus and make our intent known, we achieve our goals, but when we are more complacent,  based previous triumphs, we can trick ourselves and the outcome is not as positive as we expected.

And sometimes, like the players on the Canadian Women’s soccer team, you have to put the bad stuff behind you, and focus on the future wins, because when we bring baggage with us, it can weigh us down.

When we are determined to be the best in our field, and we focus -  who knows, we could become champions too.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

A greedy game

For Christmas my daughter gave me business cards – as VP of Sales for her business.  Subtle eh.

So this summer I have been helping her, arranging for reviews or profiles of her product in different magazines and blogs.

It’s been an interesting experience.  Did you know that over 2,000 magazines or blogs provide a Holiday Gift Guide – covering everything from the military to construction?  So it took time to narrow down those that fit her niche market.

But what has been most enlightening has been the reaction of bloggers who give reviews of products in their blogs.  Many of the magazines and bloggers have asked for samples, which is to be expected if they have to write a review, but when one of them asks for the most expensive version, you have to question the integrity and motivation behind such a request.

Surprise, surprise when we explained our policy was to send the small version, but we could upgrade the mat if she paid the difference, she chose not to do the review.  Says a lot doesn’t it, but on the other hand, at least we all knew where we stood.  She didn’t do the review, and we didn’t send the large version.

You could say a win-win all round, but it does make you question just how impartial and honest these reviews are. 

I mean,  should product reviewers be “paid”  by companies to review their product?  It sounds like a dubious practice to me, but I am totally new to this game, so I don’t know the rules.  

What I do know is that when you are greedy, sometimes you end up with nothing at all.